Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What I've learned about homeschooling!

I need a vacation!  You know the kind...the CALGON TAKE ME AWAY kind!  I am very rarely away from my family, because frankly, I don't like it!  On the few occasions when I've been somewhere without them, I usually spend a good bit of time thinking of, worrying about, and wishing I was with them.  Still, there are times when I need SOME SPACE!  Do you ever feel like that with your family?

Our first few months of homeschooling have been, well, challenging to say the least.  All of the areas that I worried about have turned out to be non issues.  The one thing that I worried about the least, has turned out to be the "bite-me-in-the-butt" issue that gives me nightmares!

Even with only four and a half months of homeschooling under my belt, I've managed to learn a few things...painful as they've been:

1.  The grass is rarely greener!  Part of me honestly thought that homeschooling was going to instantly transform my kids into treating their siblings with love and compassion....into the quiet, spiritually introverted children that I just knew God had created them to be....and into the most angelic, halo wearing, obedient children I had ever seen!  Where did I get that notion in the first place???  Honestly, I expected this miraculous transformation to happen over night!  I think I have a screw loose someplace!  I have since been whipped into submission learned understood come to humbly realize that this doesn't happen right away.  As a matter of fact, it takes years!  Even longer for those of us who have experienced traditional schools.  My kids have to learn how to be with each other 24/7 just like I have to learn how to be with them.  They are who they are...wonderfully inquisitive, incessantly energetic, compassionate, loving, eager to learn sponges!  Why would I want them any other way??

2.  Be flexible!  I anticipated this one to a certain degree.  However, I was not prepared for just how OFTEN I would need to be flexible!  Try...EVERYDAY!  I knew I would need to be willing to change up the schedule some.  If you know me, you know that my life is full of wrenches ready and waiting to be thrown at my day!  I'm pretty good at adapting to that, I swear!  I just wasn't ready for the MOOD CHANGES (including my own) that would require manipulating the schedule!  Why did none of my homeschooling friends tell me about this one?  I wasn't aware that even the slightest mention of starting a math lesson could cause Mt. Vesuvius to erupt and therefore causing the rest of the house.....to cry!  Sigh!

3.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT compare yourself to other homeschoolers!  Too late!  Been there done that!  Here's a question for you.....If I was going to compare myself to other homeschoolers.....WHY OH WHY did I choose homeschooling families that have been at this soooo much longer that I have??  These other families had to learn all the same lessons that I'm learning, it's just that they learned them eons ago and can now look at me and say..."Oh yes, I remember when....."!  The good news is that THEY SURVIVED and I will too.  I think.  I hope.  I pray.

4.  I'm so glad my kids are home!  Even with all the hard knocks I've come to realize over the last few months, I wouldn't change it (yet)!  Although I'm pretty much removed from all the goings on at our parish school, every now and then I get tidbit of information about things going on (bullying issues, teacher issues, cliques and such) that I am so thankful I don't have to deal with anymore!  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE our parish school, I really do!  I think they do a wonderful job of instilling Catholic values and academics into the students!  I just don't like all the peripheral crap that goes on!  It seems so burdensome and unnecessary.  It can get to a point where you spend too much time dealing with all of that and less time on actual learning.

5.  God's grace is endless!  The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way:  (2221) "....The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.  The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable."   (2223) "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children."  (2224) ".....Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies."  (2225) "....Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the "first heralds" for their children."  (2226) "Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years.  This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel.  Family catechisms precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith.  Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God."  Clearly, the education of my kids is extremely important to God.  But how can I do this?  What if I fail?  What if I blow it so bad that someday my kids do the unthinkable....leave the Church?  What if one of my kids ends up taking a gun to a U.S. congresswoman's outdoor meeting at the parking lot of a grocery store and starts shooting?  What if...what if....what if?  The thing is, God doesn't ask me to attempt any of this alone.  These are HIS children, not mine.  He's entrusted HIS children to me while they are here on this earth...but they BELONG to Him!  He would never ask me to do something that He has not first equipped me to do.  He will give me what I need WHEN I NEED IT!  Not one second sooner!  His grace, love and compassion are infinite. 

I can do this homeschooling thing!  I CAN!  God is with me every step of the way!  It is His desire that Dan and I be their educators.  He will help us do this.  It might be hard...it might be tiring....it might even give me a twitch on some days, but I know that I know that I know, it's what we've been called to do!

Incidentally, Santa Claus brought us a family Christmas present this year (Santa sent it via my Uncle in CA!)....annual passes to Universal Orlando/Islands of Adventure!  Thursday morning, my 46th birthday, we will be heading down to Orlando for our first visit to the likes of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter , The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and, The Cat in the Hat!  I'm hoping for no crowds since this is technically the "off season"!  This is a benefit of homeschooling....getting to take off on a family outing during the week!

So much for my Calgon vacation!


Therese said...

It really does sound like you have a good handle on this...continuing to pray for you.

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

This is a GREAT post!
And, as for those who've been at this a long time...I suppose I'd be considered one of those friends of yours...so REST ASSURED that I do not look and say, "Oh yes, I remember when"...but merely, "Ahhhhh, yes, dear Nancy...we are STILL learning THAT one, too!" ::smile::

kari l b said...

All of the wisdom you have gained in just 4 months is amazing. I have been home schooling 6 1/2 years and am still having to remind myself of most of this everyday! And I cannot speak for other home schoolers but my children have been together 24/7 since as long as they can remember but they still are not angelic, halo wearing, or obedient. Of, course I am still not always as flexible as I should be or as peaceful or as patient....learning is a long process for us all, I think. Good luck you are doing well!

Keith said...

Nice post. We are in our second year of homeschooling (virtual school). I still have trouble keeping my son on track because there is always something happening to interrupt lessons. Like today the internet is out so he can't do most of his lessons.

But, with all the frustrations, it is way better to have him at home.

KathY said...

MANY great points, Nancy.

You're right - don't compare your self with others. Not with anyone. Other home school educators have not only been at it longer than you but may have been home schooled themselves. Others are new at it, too, or relatively new at it, like you, to different degrees. Doesn't matter in any case. Don't get sidetracked and overlook and miss the gift of their collective value to you by comparing yourself to them. The gift is what you glean from their experience, not that you compare or contrast to them. It's not about you personally. It's about education...

Here's a pat on the back for your perseverence, and a thought about that. Difficult or not, you're on the right track with homeschooling. It's not a whim. It is one of your deepest dreams, therefore God-given, and a commission of sorts in nature. There's a rightness to it unlike there is with fleeting whims and feelings and emotions and ideas and instincts. A rightness. Relax, and keep running with it.

As for how your children's lives will play out, God has the eventualities covered and can use all the help you can give Him by prayerfully staying with the moment and day at hand. Lay the stepping stones for Him to work in their lives - a moment and day at a time.

Great post, Nancy. As they usually are, it's an endearingly fearless and humorous discussion of what's at hand. God love you and bless you now and always, I pray.

Happy Birthday :) !! Have fun at Disney World :) !!

Sarah Oldham said...

I'd love to see that HP stuff . . . tell me how you like it! If we ever live on the east coast again, FL is a vacation destination just to experience the HP thing . . . I don't care how bloody old and feeble i am!

This post, however, had me in STITCHES! Yes, my friend, I've been on all these points MANY TIMES.

God is good - all the time!

Hau'oli la hanau! Many blessings today, and always, birthday girl!

william2233 said...

Nice site, from a children author

SHEAFmom said...

As one of those, have been homeschooling for years, let me assure you burn out comes in cycles. Sometimes you may even forget all the reasons you felt "called" to homeschool. I can also assure you that burn out ends and the light shines...until the next burn out. :-) May God send you a few extra rays of light this week. May He send you little glimpses of the rewards you are building up for you and your family. Through the intercession of St. Anne Amen